Writing In The Age Of Digital

Some days, no matter how much I plan and prepare, writing for the blog (or writing for anything for that matter) feels like trying to navigate a maze blindfolded. Ideas buzz through my head, but inspiration doesn’t strike and I’m left dawdling. That’s how my today has been.

I was thinking of not posting anything, but then I came across this funny post on FB. I should clarify, funny IMHO. Just don’t want to come across as insensitive, since I know people who trust that iPad more than they trust that nanny and people who won’t let their kids come near the shadow of a computer, let alone the evil iPad. To each their own, but I’m an admirer of the power that device has, and of how much liberation it has brought to mothers who use them (sparingly and only after diligently monitoring the content of course).

But my post today is not about the power of the iPad, nor about the right way to raise your kid, but about the influence the digital age has had on our lives, specifically our writing lives.

You don’t have to go back too far (although the influence will be even more clearer if you go fifty years into the past), but only, say, about twenty years. Would I have published a single book? Nope. Would I even dream of putting together a book myself, or think of collaborating with editors, designers, proofreaders so easily and so efficiently? Not at all. Efficiency is a gift of the digital revolution and I believe we are blessed to be seeing the transformations it is bringing about.

There is a lot of debate about content overflowing the net, content that might not be as stellar as people would like them to be. But even if half of that content is like by at least one person, I think it is content worth bringing into the world. And the only reason that has been possible–the proliferation of digital.

But the same proliferation is also a disruptive force that is shaking and tearing the publishing industry apart. While I’m personally all for disruptions, because I think it only makes industries stronger and better (survival of the fittest, right?), not everyone would agree. Particularly the ones that are used to enjoying the status quo of decades and even centuries in some cases.

It is easy to call them shortsighted or even go as far as calling them stupid, but isn’t it only human to embrace stability? Change is difficult, especially it means you have to give up the comforts that were handed to you. It is human nature to deny the need for change and even after seeing the writing on the wall resisting it, at least for some time before thinking of adapting. Status quo is easy and we seek the path of least resistance, until we come up against the wall.

Two articles I came across this week made for good reading and goes on to show how difficult it has been for publishers to accept and adapt to the digital age. It’s not like they are still using the Gutenberg, but they have refused to streamline the work processes that are based on the handicaps of the paper-only age. And they still deny the future of eBooks and the eReaders.

So, anyway, it’s not my job or my interest in showing the publishing industry the way to salvation. They are afterall, my competition and the more they fade into oblivion, the better chance I have in the market. But, it is worth reminding ourselves, not to get too comfortable with what works today. Because, chances are, tomorrow it won’t. Case in point, the KDP Select days, or the new KU–the disruptors just keep on coming. And something tells me the publishing industry has a long way to go before it gets back to stability again.

So stay nimble, stay open, and stay sharp!

And before I forget, here are the two articles I mentioned earlier:

S.G. Basu is an aspiring potentate of a galaxy or two. She plots and plans with wondrous machines, cybernetic robots, time travelers and telekinetic adventurers, some of whom escape into the pages of her books. Once upon a previous life on planet Earth, S.G. Basu trained to be an engineer, and her interest in science and her love of engineering shows up time and again in her books.

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Posted in on etceteras, on writing, thoughtful thursdays

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